Do you have a birthday coming up and you're not sure how to make that special person in your life feel cherished? How about gifting them a hand-painted card that will make them feel truly special and they'll want to keep forever?
To help you out, we're gonna show you how to make a super easy hand-painted watercolor card with a big letter in the middle, surrounded by pretty flowers.
We'll do it by applying just one layer of watercolor, and then we'll finish it off with some gentle touch-ups here and there using colored pencils and graphite pencil.
*To watch the full video of the process, click here.
The best part of it all? You don't need any prior drawing knowledge to make this lovely card. Just download the template and dive right into the fun part!
- This template is part of the Botanical Alphabet collection.
- Watercolors (I used pan watercolors, but you can use your preferred type. The colors I used: Ultramarine Blue, Hooker's Green, and Magenta mixed with a few drops of red).
- IPERARTIKA Template
- Watercolor paper, 240 gsm or higher. Letter or A4 size.
- Watercolor brushes (I used a round #8 and a #3/0)
- Water Container
- Brush drying cloth
- Palette for mixing colors (if you don't have a palette, you can use a ceramic plate)
- Graphite pencil
- Colored pencils
You can download a guide to basic materials here:
Step 1 - Download and Print
Before we get started, we'll print our template in a size that fits nicely on the front of the card. You can easily adjust this when printing in your print settings panel. I used an A4 paper, so I printed my template at 50% of its actual size.
Step 2 - Marking the Front and Back
The first thing we'll do is fold our paper in half to mark the front and back, without the need for precise measurements. I used a Scoring Board because it's convenient and quick, but it's not necessary to begin with. You can simply fold your paper in half by aligning the corners and gently folding it in half.
Step 3 - Tracing the Template
Now that we have half of the card marked, we'll go ahead and transfer our template using our favorite tracing method. To explore various ways of transferring a template onto watercolor paper, check out this article.
For this card, I traced the template on the front, and then I traced a flower and some leaves on the back because I enjoy adding some detail to the backside. However, if you prefer, you can leave the back blank.
Step 4 - Prepare Your Paints
Next, let's get our favorite color palette ready. Remember that using a limited color palette can help us maintain harmony and avoid the risk of mixing too many different colors. For this project, I used Ultramarine Blue, Hooker's Green, and Magenta mixed with a few drops of red.
I prepared fairly watery colors because I enjoy painting with the wet-on-wet technique. That means applying a layer of watery paint or clean water and while it's still wet, adding more paint of the same color (slightly less diluted) or another color. This creates interesting textures in the final piece, and the color doesn't appear too flat. However, it's all a matter of personal preference. There are no strict rules for having fun with painting! 🎨😄
Step 5 - Quickly Color Sketch
To make the painting process flow even more smoothly, here's a fun tip: before we dive into painting, let's create a tiny colorful blueprint. This little exercise allows us to plan out which parts we want to shine (those we want to highlight will get more vivid or lighter colors compared to the rest). Plus, it gives us a sneak peek to see if everything will harmonize nicely in the end.
For this plan to work, use colored pencils that mimic the hues you've prepared with your watercolors. Or, you can even use the very same watercolors you've mixed up. But here's the catch – don't sweat the small stuff! Do this super quickly and on a much smaller scale so you won't get bogged down in details and can see the bigger picture.
Oh, and just so you know, all IPERARTIKA templates come with a nifty Color Test Page for each design, perfectly scaled to help you whip up this colorful blueprint in no time!
Step 6 - First Layer of Watercolor
Now, let's get that brush wet!
To start, I secure my card onto a piece of plywood. This prevents the paper from wrinkling as I paint. (I don't tape it to the table because I might need to rotate the artwork for different angles.)
Tip: (Remember never to attach it to cardboard or any water-sensitive material. You can use a different type of wood, a plastic or acrylic board.)
When we paint, we begin with lighter colors and then move on to the darker ones. If you did it the other way around, you might end up blending the colors and not achieve the desired effect. Personally, I like to paint each separate part that isn't adjacent to another first, let it dry, and then move on to the nearby sections. This way, you avoid the paint looking too flat, and you don't need to apply many layers for the elements to stand out. Plus, it gives a much crisper outline.
While we wait for the first little leaves on the front to dry, let's make the most of our time by starting to paint the back of the card. And as that dries, we can switch back to working on the front.
Remember, the drying times in watercolor are something you'll get the hang of with practice. This skill will come in handy for achieving different effects. It's not the same painting a second layer on freshly applied wet paint as it is on paint that was applied five minutes ago or on a layer that's been allowed to dry for 24 hours (yes, you can let layers dry for a whole day or more if you like).
We paint petals just like the leaves, leaving the petals in between unpainted.
Tip: To create highlights, leave small areas unpainted.
While what we've already painted dries, let's keep painting the elements that won't touch each other. Don't forget to rotate your card if needed; working comfortably is key!
Step 7 - Painting in Between
After painting all the separate elements that won't touch each other, we wait for them to dry and then proceed to paint the areas in between.
Step 8 - Let it flow
Now, it's time to paint the star of the scene, the letter I. I had a blast doing this by adding a generous amount of water and then dropping paint onto these puddles (leaving small unpainted dots to create more highlights). I love discovering the beautiful textures that form once everything dries. Watercolor is truly magical!
Step 9 - Fine Brush Details
Once the letter I is completely dry, we paint the leaves that are on top of it using the #3/0 brush. We can also emphasize stems, petal lines, and add some shadows if we want to highlight that a leaf or petal is in front of another element.
Step 10 - Final Details with Pencils
Once we've added all the fine brush details, let the watercolor layer dry completely. How long? Until the back of your hand doesn't feel cold when you touch the paper. Then, we'll reinforce some lines with pencils. There's no need to outline all the contours of every element.
Tip: Whenever you want to accentuate details with colored pencils, make sure your pencil is sharp and avoid applying too much pressure. The idea is to add a bit of depth to the inner parts of the petals, the veins of the leaves, and perhaps some lines that we couldn't define with watercolor.
After this step, our card will be ready! You can give it as many layers of watercolor as you like. Remember, the idea isn't to follow strict rules but to have fun painting and develop your own technique with this wonderful medium.
Let the card rest for a couple of hours before removing the masking tape, and then it'll be ready to give to your favorite person!
Tip: If you notice that the paper is still a bit wavy when you remove the card from the support where you painted it, you can place it inside a book and leave it there overnight to "flatten."
How did you like this project? Would you like us to do more projects like this? Do you have any questions or suggestions? Write to us to let us know what you thought and if it inspired you. Tag us on social media to show us your version of this template, and if you'd like, send us your image to feature on the inspiration page with your name!
Share this post with that person you know would love this simple project, or save it to Pinterest for later!
Let’s keep creating💫